Monday, December 5, 2011

Kaki Bakar & Jogho, directed by U-Wei Bin Hajisaari

Kaki Bakar and Jogho are two films written and directed by U-Wei Bin Hajisaari by the year of 1995 and 1997. Kaki bakar (The Arsonist) is a film about Kakang who proud of his Javanese heritage is trying to bring up his children in Malaysia and instill them his own traditional values and beliefs. Seeing clearly the social inequalities that allow him to be exploited his defiance results in profound consequences for his youngest son, a boy who shares his father's uncompromising integrity. Meanwhile, Jogho is setting in the bull-fighting Patani Malay community of Southern Thailand. An ungracious loser in the arena kills his rival, whose brother Mamat (Khalid Salleh) then vows to get even. His wife Minah (Normah Damanhuri) fails to stop this cycle of vengeance, which will also affect the younger generation.

These two films have the similarities which both of them examine about the religion, tradition, culture and identity. In ‘Kaki Bakar’, Kakang who was emigrated from Indonesia, appreciated the adat and tradition of their religions. He is trying to instill his own Javanese values and beliefs to his son, Kusuma. He always reminds his son not to forget their roots and origins and teaches him how to become a real man. While in ‘Jogho”, Mamat thinks that he is the pillar in his family and he needs to play role in his responsibility. Mamat and Lazim are the leaders in a small village that depends mostly on the money won from gambling in bullfights for its sustenance. He involves in the bull-fighting game to gain respect as well as reputation and status from the society.

In U-Wei’s film always shown family love and identities as a theme to implant his idea and massage to his audiences. From the character of Kakang in ‘Kaki Bakar’ or Mamat in ‘Jogho’ , it’s highlighted the Malay’s identity and represents the Malay dilemma or the social deficiencies like the gender roles in the society, and different generation (Old Malay versus New Malay). He is using the characters of his film to show the inequality of the gender roles. For example, ‘Jogho’ retains in their shared critiques of contemporary Malay/ Malaysian identities and their forthright characteristic in daily lives.

In the films, the importance and high status of men can be shown. Men always portrayed as the dominant gender and main financial income in the family. In ‘Kaki Bakar’, wherever there is something happened, the family member will always looks up to their father Kakang and the daughters are refused to listen to their mother; while in ‘Jogho’, Mamat’s wife, Minah obey and never oppose to what did his husband asked her to. This can be seen in the scene of Mamat asked Minah to take the only money for family living to feed Calet, the bull although she know the money was the only support of their family.

We can easily found that the shooting style and technique that U-Wei using in these two films is unique and representative. He likes to use slow dolly tracking shot to reveal the mise-en scene. This can be found in the scene of a guy complaining the fire of his house with crowd of people. A slow dolly tracking shot was used to show the expression of each listener in the grocery store and the shot ended with the guy who is actually speaking. Almost the same techniques also apply during the staring of Jogho where a slow pan and tracking shot started from the scenery of Patani and ended with the funeral of Lazim. In addition, the use of diegetic sound with the camera movement is what the director trying to do in order drag audience to the source of the sound and this also highlighted the event that seen after the end of the camera movement is important throughout the films.

We can notice that the changing of the lighting technique reach a big improvement from ‘Kaki Bakar’ to ‘Jogho’. The lighting was bad and dark in ‘Kaki Bakar’ making the storyline pause and do not go smooth. Fortunately, there is a better and brighter lighting can be seen in ‘Jogho’ compare to the previous film.

Through this analysis, we can found that U-Wei’s film is unique with his own style and technique to inject his idea to the audiences. He prefers people to watch his film and judge it, rather than selling a story to the audiences.

Wong, L. H. (n.d.). Plot Summary for Kaki bakar (1995) . Retrieved December 3, 2011, from
Full synopsis. (n.d.). In Jogho | Synopsis. Retrieved December 3, 2011, from
Anne, T. C. (n.d.). Contemporary Asian cinema: popular culture in a global frame, Retrieved December 3, 2011, from

Friday, November 25, 2011

Film Journal: Abang 1981, directed by Rahim Razali

“Abang” directed Rahim Razali at 1981 is a story about Abang Fuad, the oldest son from a wealthy family suddenly returns home after lost contact for 10 years ago. His family are showing different emotional to this unexpectedly news. There are some conflicts appeared between this family and finally they realize that Abang Fuad actually wents to Londan for medical treatment.

In this film, Rahim Razali using a reflective perspective to interpret the 80’s Malay society in Malaysia. There are language, cultural and racial hybridity which we can easily to define in this movie. These may seem from the Abang Fuad and his family of their different characteristic feature and attitude. The film shown that the lifestyle of the people in the New Economic Policy era which Abang Fuad’s family is adapted to the westernize culture and high educated.

Language hybridity can lightly notice in this film. From the scene that Abang Fuad’s brother, used the mixture of Malay and English to read the fax of Abang Fuad from Londan. When he read out the fax, he used the ‘Stop’ to represent the pause of the sentence. Besides, they also use ‘I’ and ‘You’ in their conversation instead of using the pure Malay language of ‘Saya’ and ‘Kamu’.

The culture exchange and growth with the western culture among the 80’s Malays society can be strongly appear by Abang Fuad’s family. Firstly it can show by the custom from the female characters, Nazreen, Dila and Mona. They are representing the modern Malay women where influence by the westernized lifestyle. For example, when the scene of Nazreen apologizes to Farid after a fight but Farid refuse to forgive her, Dila stands out to voice and this show that the characteristic of a modern woman which is strong-minded and progressive.

In the other hands, taking alcoholic is illegal for Muslim, but in the scene, Farid was unhappy and he drunk a lot of alcohol in the party. Another scene where the welcome home’s party that held on Faud’s house shown the cultural hybridity which the style of celebrating is totally westernized by the food and the custom of the guests. Although some of them are wearing traditional custom, which is baju kebaya but it is modified to more sexy and attractive. The food they provided are also in western style which is barbecue and others deserts.

However, Abang Fuad portrait an opposite characteristic which he maintain the traditional Malay identity although he went to London for about 10 years. From the scene he visit his childhood village, he still act like a ‘kampung boy’ playing the coconut tree leaf to carry people with his best friend, Diaman. The river scene where the old man sings the poem to Fuad on the bamboo boat and the scene where Dila sing to Faud in the pub had shown the contrast of the traditional and westernized Malay society.

Besides all of that, racial hybridity can also define in this movie. In the party scene of celebrating the return of Fuad, there are mixtures of different races of people including Chinese, Indians and Malays.

The part of the movie that I dislike is about the complicated relationship between Faud and Mona. The conversation make audience confused because Mona is actually Faisal’s wife but she refused to forgive Faud of his fault 10 years ago. In the movie did not explain clearly about the story and create confusion.
As a conclusion, this film managed to bring out the strong expression and dramatic approach to the audiences. It brings out the message that we cannot forget our own roots although we are now born in a modern and educated society.

Khalidah. (2008, June 02). Excuse the self-indulgence. Retrieved November 26, 2011, from
Norman Yusoff. (2010, December 16). 12 malay movies. Retrieved November 26, 2011 from
Elviza. (2009, NOVEMBER 25).Teater & filem melayu: Antara tabu dan kreativiti. Retrieved November 26, 2011 from

Monday, November 14, 2011

Film Journal: Selubung 1992, directed by Shuhaimi Baba

Mastura, who returns from her studies abroad, feels the loss of her good friends, E.J. who has chosen to follow the path of the religious extremist group led by Brother Musa. She decides to pick up voluntary work as her mission to promote good will for society. Halim, who has had experiences working abroad serving the Middle East, supports Mastura’s good intention and encourages her to join “Rescaid”, a volunteer organization. In her line of duty in helping the children refugees from Palestine, Mastura falls in love with Kamal, a divorcee who shares the cause she is pursuing. The success of a nation-wide charity concert promoted by Mastura and the team from “Rescaid” becomes the pride of the locals, until one day, tragedy strikes unexpectedly. However, it does not kill Mastura’s determination to protect the fate of the unfortunate.

In this film, the touchiest part for me is it show the history of Malaysia which the “Rescaid Organisation” activities helping the Muslims in the Middle East and save the children of Palestine. The volunteers of Rescaid are giving great effort to save the Palestinians and Muslim student in Middle East from dilemma and seek the donations for material support. This shown by the characteristic of Dr. Sandar, a strong and faithful leader who organized the activities to help the Palestinian and Muslims at Middle East and she become the great example for Mastura. And Mastura become actively involved. Another example is the scene Musa’s medical treatment of wounded children and injured people when the explosion in Middle East and the death of Halim when he sacrificed in the explosion.

By the other hand, the editing styles of this film given me a wrong impression which is the flashback and the present scenes are interspersed. It confuse the audience and hard to catch up with the storyline. There are some jump cuts scenes make the storyline more complicated. For example when the scene swift dissolve from the Western Australia suddenly cut to the scene of Kuala Lumpur where Mastura meet the manager of “Rescaid” in the office confused the audience because it does not show out with the title of the place. The audience will misunderstand that the scene is still in the same location.
In this film, there showing two different types of Malay women, between modern and traditional, which represent by Mas and E.J. The dissimilar from their personality, their dressing and their thought showing that they are influenced by different culture. When the scene shown at Perth, there is a local radio announcer broadcasting the rock music which represents the lost of the oversea student (Muslim)about their origin of social and culture.

The relationship between Mas and Kamal is the ornament of this film. Firstly, the scene starting with they know each other until they being together is going with the flow. However, the discovery of Mas about Kamal is a married man causes the broken relationship but finally they are reunion. The romance scene when Kamal proposing to Mas in front of the public is the sweetest part of and release the tension of this movie.

The references of Mise-en scene and Mise-en shot are the scene of the climax part when the Rescaid and the “Pintu” having the charity concert for the Palestinian children at Kuala Lumpur. The sensation atmosphere appears when the crowd of the people shouting and clapping their hand while doing donation and when the children are bring to the location. The song (music) that performance by the “Pintu” brought up the feeling of blissful and touching moment to the audience. Another example is the first scene at the beach, an old man is giving advice to a young girl and there are butterflies settling on his arms. After that dissolve to he is playing the traditional music instrument and the young girl is concentrate on the beating of the drum. Then change to the scene the young girl walk to join another girl and boy. The young girl is believed to represent the main character, Mastura and the old man is her grandfather. Then, the other children are E.J and Halim. This show that the strong relationship between Mas and her friend and the respectively to the advice of the elderly. Lastly, the scene show that the contrast of two Malay women that influenced and followed by different culture. E.J was wearing traditional Muslim’s costume while Mas was wearing the modern clothes. This is because Mas is influenced by the Western culture while she studying at Sydney. She is independent-minded and confidence. In the other hands, E.J. becomes the second wife of Bother Musa, a member of Tabligh, worldwide Islamic fundamentalist missionary group which loyalty to their religion (Islam) and follow the traditional Malay culture.

Selubung (1992). (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2011, from

Jacqueline Levitin, Valerie Raoul. (2003). Women Filmmakers: Refocusing. In Google Books. Retrieved November 14, 2011, from